After my ex-husband died and I was sharing the big “what happened” story with a friend, I was kind of shocked when she looked me right in the eye and said, “There’s no way he did that.” It wasn’t disbelief. It was outright denial. She refused to think there was any way he could have been abusive.
I heard it over and over:
“He was so nice.”
“He was always willing to help.”
“He loved his wife. He never would have hurt her.”
“There must be a misunderstanding.”
Many abusers are great actors. To the outside world, they are the greatest people, the handyman who helps his neighbors, the mom who kindly drives other children home from school, the boyfriend who takes out the garbage for his girlfriend’s mom. They fool the rest, and initially, they fooled the ones they wound up hurting.
One of the biggest issues is, victims will spend so much time lying for and about their abuser that when the truth comes out, others hold the victims to their earlier lies and disbelieve the truth.
Like blaming the victim, people often find it hard to believe abuse ever took place.
Yet, it did. It happened, and while it might be hard to believe, to outright, vocally disbelieve tends to add more pain to a victim. No one wants to believe someone they care about hurt someone else, but denial is as bad as silence. And again, it perpetuates the cycle.